Sorry, Lincoln: Presidents Day Is for George Washington Only

Washington and Lincoln share Mount Rushmore, but not President's Day.
Washington and Lincoln share Mount Rushmore, but not President's Day.
michaelschober/iStock via Getty Images

Americans enjoy a handful of federal holidays every year, and most of them have relatively straightforward definitions. Veterans Day honors military service. The Fourth of July acknowledges the country’s independence. But Presidents Day is something of a mystery.

Contrary to popular belief, it’s not a catch-all holiday meant to celebrate the presidents. In fact, it doesn’t legally exist at all. It’s technically known as Washington’s Birthday at the federal level, and Abraham Lincoln, presumed to be part of the honor, doesn’t have anything to do with it.

Beginning in 1968, Congress took a second look at federal holidays with the Uniform Monday Holidays Act, which proposed letting holidays fall on a Monday to give employees a three-day weekend. While there was little opposition to what was clearly a stellar idea, lawmakers were less enthused about switching Washington’s Birthday from February 22—which was celebrated beginning in 1879 and would now be moved to the third Monday of February—to the all-inclusive President’s Day. The holiday officially remained Washington’s, though some state and local governments use the President’s Day label.

So what happened to Lincoln? Shouldn’t the president who effectively ended slavery and helped win the Civil War be granted a calendar tribute to call his own? People have tried. In the 1870s, a shopkeeper and Lincoln fan named Julius Francis tried to rally lawmakers to acknowledge Lincoln. New York, along with a few other states, agreed, but Congress didn’t. At the time, the country was still divided, with the South bitter over Lincoln’s victory. Later on, individual states reserved a date for his birthday on February 12. By 1940, 24 states and the District of Columbia marked their calendars for Lincoln. But many, like California, allowed it to phase out. Another holiday so close to Martin Luther King Jr. Day in January and Washington's Birthday in February seemed like one too many.

So whether you call it Presidents Day, President’s Day, or Presidents’ Day—there seems to be no official apostrophe placement, likely because it’s actually not an official label—be aware that it’s really all about Washington. It’s also an excellent time to buy a mattress.

[h/t The Christian Science Monitor]

Wayfair’s Fourth of July Clearance Sale Takes Up to 60 Percent Off Grills and Outdoor Furniture


This Fourth of July, Wayfair is making sure you can turn your backyard into an oasis while keeping your bank account intact with a clearance sale that features savings of up to 60 percent on essentials like chairs, hammocks, games, and grills. Take a look at some of the highlights below.

Outdoor Furniture

Brisbane bench from Wayfair

- Jericho 9-Foot Market Umbrella $92 (Save 15 percent)
- Woodstock Patio Chairs (Set of Two) $310 (Save 54 percent)
- Brisbane Wooden Storage Bench $243 (Save 62 percent)
- Kordell Nine-Piece Rattan Sectional Seating Group with Cushions $1800 (Save 27 percent)
- Nelsonville 12-Piece Multiple Chairs Seating Group $1860 (Save 56 percent)
- Collingswood Three-Piece Seating Group with Cushions $410 (Save 33 percent)

Grills and Accessories

Dyna-Glo electric smoker.

- Spirit® II E-310 Gas Grill $479 (Save 17 percent)
- Portable Three-Burner Propane Gas Grill $104 (Save 20 percent)
- Digital Bluetooth Electric Smoker $224 (Save 25 percent)
- Cuisinart Grilling Tool Set $38 (Save 5 percent)

Outdoor games

American flag cornhole game.

- American Flag Cornhole Board $57 (Save 19 percent)
- Giant Four in a Row Game $30 (Save 6 percent)
- Giant Jenga Game $119 (Save 30 percent)

This article contains affiliate links to products selected by our editors. Mental Floss may receive a commission for purchases made through these links.

5 Ways to Keep Your Dog Calm on the Fourth of July

iStock/Getty Images Plus/melissabrock1
iStock/Getty Images Plus/melissabrock1

The Fourth of July can be rough for dogs. Fireworks displays light up their senses with unfamiliar noises, flashes, and smells, and parties flood their homes with strange guests who may invade the rooms they usually have as private retreats. And when distressed dogs escape, howl, or thrash around the house, Independence Day can quickly become a nightmare for their owners, too. To minimize Fido's stress this holiday, we spoke to some dog experts to discover the best ways to keep your canine calm on the Fourth of July.

1. Exercise Your Dog

Anthony Newman, the dog whisperer who runs New York City's Calm Energy Dog Training, says that exercise is a great way to help your dog let off some nervous energy. "Whenever Fido is going to be neglected for an extended period of time, or around any stressful stimuli, it always helps to tire him out just before—and even during the night if you can," Newman says. "As the saying goes, a tired dog is a good dog! He'll be calmer, happier, and more peaceful."

2. Keep Your Dog Indoors

Dr. Stephanie Liff, head veterinarian at Pure Paws Veterinary Care, says the best place to keep your pet during a fireworks show is inside and away from the windows. "If the pet is very scared, an escape-proof crate or a sound-insulated room, such as an internal bathroom, may help the pet to feel more secure," Liff tells Mental Floss. "If you cannot keep your pet inside, make sure that the pet is prevented from escape (monitor all exits and tell guests to monitor your pet)."

3. Socialize Your Dog

While your dog may feel more secure in a room away from all the noise, Newman points out that keeping your dog isolated in another room for too long can be stressful for your pet. "Release his curiosity and let him in on the fun, to run around and play with both two-legged as well as four-legged guests," Newman says. "Then back to his obedient room, bed, car, crate, or spot. Rinse and repeat as needed throughout the night."

4. Take Control of Your Dog

According to Newman, the best way to keep your dog calm during the chaos of July 4th is to stay in charge. "If your dog winces, shivers, and runs away at loud noises, the last thing he wants is to feel like nobody else is looking out for him," Newman says. Don't let your dog run rampant around the house or follow him around trying to soothe him. Instead, Newman says it's important to "take control by attaching a super-light leash that you can grab and lead him whenever you need."

5. Explore Medicating Your Dog

In extreme cases of nervousness, Liff says that you should talk to your vet about medication to sedate your dog.